Water-Related News

Pinellas beach nourishment advocates repeat: Project is in danger

INDIAN SHORES — In case they haven’t been pounding the table long enough and loud enough, backers of the $45 million beach nourishment project designed to shore up the Gulf coast from Clearwater to Redington Beach had some bleak words for the area’s mayors.

“We’re still doing everything we can to protect the project, but everybody needs to be aware that we are at a very high risk of losing not only a big chunk of the project right in the middle, but the entire project for the 2024 cycle,” county public works director Kelli Hammer Levy told members of the Barrier Island Governmental Council, or BIG-C, on Dec. 2.

In other words, the reluctance of some gulf-front residents to sign on to the 9-mile project could spike the entire effort.

Beach nourishment typically is accomplished on a six-year cycle as natural tidal forces and occasional storms reshape barrier island coastlines. The Sand Key portion from Clearwater to Redington Beach is up for consideration for the next cycle in 2024.

The federal government pays 60% of the cost of such massive projects, with the state and county kicking in 20% each. In 2018, the Sand Key portion cost $45 million.

In exchange for that federal largesse, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requires all beachfront property owners who will receive fresh sand to sign an easement that, among other conditions, allows the public access to the beach.